I am running for House of Delegates to fight for working families, seniors, women, veterans and West Virginians with disabilities. But I am driven by the under-represented voices of our children, and will always put children first. Let's change the conversation!
After careful consideration, and a proposed "raise" that amounts to a slap in the face by the GOP-led Legislature, public school teachers and service personnel are getting ready to raise their voices at the state capitol tomorrow and Saturday.
As a small business owner and a proud product of Cabell County Schools, I owe so much to a number of great teachers; so do my sons. When I became a candidate, I decided to focus on three priorities for West Virginia: giving a voice to children and working families, fully and immediately addressing the drug epidemic, and reversing the exodus of our state’s young adults. The GOP’s de-valuing of our public workforce affects all three of these major issues.
I know it’s been brewing for several years. It started with giving away tax breaks to out-of-state corporations, putting a growing hole in West Virginia’s budget. Last year, the voices of educators and insured employees were taken off of the PEIA Funding Board, then the Legislature only funded half of the $20 million proposed to keep the agency solvent. They refused even to hold a public hearing in Huntington! And PEIA was essentially ordered to make up the deficit by holding you accountable for the rising costs.
From all I’ve heard and seen in the first half of the 2018 session, the GOP majority has been going in a negative direction. But public employees are standing up to say “we’ve had enough!” In marching on the Capitol and filling up those marble halls on Saturday, teachers and service employees are raising the voice of democracy over the paid influence of big money corporate donors. You’re making a difference now, and you have the power to make an even bigger difference in the 2018 elections!
I believe that to save West Virginia, we must grow and diversify our economy to keep our young adults here and productive. We must strengthen education from pre-K to post-secondary. And we must provide a living wage for those who provide vital human services. I stand ready to support you in your fight to stay, teach and serve the children and families of our great state, and look forward to hearing from you soon.
BE INFORMED—SAFELY REDUCING ABORTIONS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RESTRICTING ACCESS.
AS A THINKING, CHRISTIAN “PRO-CHOICE” WOMAN I WILL STRESS TO ALL WHO WILL HEAR: THAT THERE IS NOTHING PRO-LIFE ABOUT SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 12 (WHICH PASSED OUT OF THAT CHAMBER TODAY) AND OTHER LAWS THAT WOULD POLICE THE BODIES OF WEST VIRGINIA’S WOMEN AND GIRLS!
Restrictive laws do not reduce abortions but are instead linked to unsafe abortions, which put women at risk of serious health problems and even death. Outlawing abortion simply endangers women.
A 2016 analysis published in the Lancet finds that the average abortion rate in countries where the procedure is outlawed is 37 per 1,000 women, compared to 34 per 1,000 in countries where abortion is legal. In other words, scientists found no evidence that anti-abortion laws do anything to reduce the number of actual procedures women get.
For reference, the national U.S. abortion rate in 2014 was 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. The same year the abortion rate in West Virginia was 6.0 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. (Source)
There are known, evidence-based ways to reduce abortions that actually increase a woman’s autonomy over her body, health and well-being — rather than take away her rights and put her in danger.
Please arm yourself with the facts about the three most effective ways to reduce abortions before considering such dogmatic, punitive, UNJUST and OPPRESSIVE measures as SJR 12:
1. When states invest in age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education, teen pregnancy rates go down.
Misplaced priorities that focus exclusively on “the unborn” not only demean and endanger women and teen girls, but neglect the plight of all of West Virginia’s “post-delivery” babies and children who rank 47th in the U.S. in overall child well-being.
According to 2016 Kids Count data:
• One in ten West Virginia babies are low birth weight.
• Over 23% live in poverty.
• Forty percent are covered by Medicaid.
• Thirteen percent of children have mothers with less than a 12th grade education.
• One child in 30 is a victim of abuse.
West Virginia’s most improved Kids Count child well-being indicator—perhaps West Virginia’s greatest ACTUAL PRO-LIFE achievement—has been the huge reduction in its rate of uninsured women and children in 2015, largely due to the state’s decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Source: Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families
Restrictive laws and constitutional amendments that both discount the professional judgment of and endanger the careers of doctors will have negative impacts on overall infant, woman and maternal health in West Virginia:
Given the facts, those who “hate abortion,” but consider medically-accurate, age-appropriate sex education and freely available contraception as morally objectionable may want to do their own soul-searching: “Am I more concerned with policing the bodies of women and girls than advancing solutions that are actually shown to reduce abortions and promote healthy infants, women and children in West Virginia?”
I await your response.
The principle of prevention
Preventing avoidable tragedies is both more compassionate and more cost effective than ignoring problems until they blow up.
When bad things happen—when a crime is committed, a bridge collapses, or a consumer product is found to be poisonous or dangerous, people regardless of political party look to their government for help. I want to live where our infrastructure is sound, our food and medicines are safe, unwanted pregnancies are prevented, and our children get what they need to become healthy, well-educated and productive citizens.
Today we are living the costs of failing to invest in prevention. Failing to invest in prevention (as in the examples shown below), has led to the exploding costs of incarceration, emergency response systems and medical care we are seeing now. It's like we handed the devil a credit card.
I was interviewed by the wonderful Mary Ann Claytor for her weekly 1-hour podcast - here's the link:
With West Virginia teacher vacancies already at crisis level, it's hard to understand how anyone can justify the benefit cuts being proposed by the PEIA Finance Board.
Labor representatives were recently removed/replaced on the PEIA Finance Board. The revised board has now proposed an array of measures that put the burden squarely on past, present and future teachers and their families, as reported by WV Metro News.
The board has scheduled only three public hearings this month - with none in Huntington - to get public input on these changes. Do you think this is acceptable?
Giving a raw deal to current and retired educators is no way to reverse the exodus of our young professionals, and is definitely not in the best interest of West Virginia's children and seniors.
Contact: PEIA Director: Ted Cheatham 304-558-7850, ext.52634
Chief Financial Officer: Jason Haught firstname.lastname@example.org 304-558-7850, ext. 52642
(Thanks to Diane Magnone, my sister Legislative candidate from Weirton, for sharing this alert.)
Raising our voices
Issues, insights and day-to-day adventures along the campaign trail